Golf is a sport that requires the player to have a certain degree of optimal biomechanics.
Biomechanics = Human movement. How muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement.
Golf Biomechanics = Movement when playing Golf.
In this short article, I’ll run you through 5 Biomechanical requirements that if not dealt with, could be key issues behind pain, aches, injuries, poor performance, or performance plateaus.
In my practice specialising in injury rehab, pain management, corrective exercise, and sport specific exercise conditioning, these 5 points below are all part of my assessment process and are essential in identifying the key drivers behind injury, pain, and setting the stage for Golf biomechanics performance optimisation.
For any golf player looking to improve his or her game, they need to improve upon and condition the most important tool used… their body!
So here goes…
1. Spine Range of Motion in Rotation, Flexion, & Extension
Every golfer wants to play better golf. But not every golfer understands just how connected the movement ability of their spine is linked to their performance. A golf swing is a highly athletic movement. And poor dynamic posture will result in a leakage of performance and a break in your ability to transfer the swing your brain visualises to the swing your body produces.
Optimal range of motion of the Spine is as followed:
Extension: Ability to reverse the curve
Here I'm assessing thoracic flexion.
I test all of these during my assessment process.
If there are deficits, for example a reduced ability to rotate your thoracic spine, in order to strike the ball efficiently, your body will compensate. Which eventually leads to injury, aches, pain, or just simply poor performance.
It’s no surprise that lower back pain is the sport of Golf’s leading injury, and musculoskeletal complaint.
Optimise the health of your spine’s movement ability, and you’ll optimise your Golf performance.
2. Core Conditioning & Stability
Core stability is quite a vague term, and can mean different things to different people… even for professionals in the fields of physical therapy & exercise prescription. Core conditioning is far more than simply doing a hundred sit ups a day…
Core stability is important for developing optimal spinal mechanics, breathing mechanics, stabilisation of the spine & pelvis, as well as stabilisation of the shoulders, neck, arms, knees, ankles, etc.
These 4 muscles work in unison to form the "inner unit of the core"
Testing for key muscles along the spine, and abdomen can shed some importance as to what kind of corrective program is necessary to begin with. For example, if you’re taking part in strength & power exercises, but have inhibition or de-conditioning of key deep core musculature… you’re simply engraining poor posture and muscle imbalances further into your nervous system… and the more you do it, the harder and longer it is to unwind.
Think of the Core like the foundation of a house. You wouldn’t want to buy a house with dodgy foundations… it would simply lead to a slew of problems down the line. It’s the same thing for the body. The core is the foundation for everything. It’s often a significant driving problem behind a lot of complaints holding people back on the Golf course, like knee, ankle, and wrist injuries, as well as back pain. Overlook conditioning the Core at your own peril.
3. Balance Between Flexibility & Stability
For a balanced musculoskeletal system, you need a balance of flexibility and stability. They work hand in hand to stabilise joints, keep muscle relationships in balance, and maintain optimal alignment and posture.
Poor posture stressed muscles and joints, and can lead to all kinds of musculoskeletal injuries over time
What I see very often in individuals is that they are often too tight and restricted, and don’t know how to stretch scientifically to undo their muscle imbalances. But this state of having a tight and restricted body is often a systemic reaction to the body lacking stability in some key areas. The body reacts to the de-conditioning of certain stabiliser muscles by tightening and increasing the tone of various other muscles.
These physical limitations lead to all kinds of pain complaints and injury. It also leads to non optimal strength and power development.
There is a specific formula to optimise your Golfing Biomechanics and restore optimal function of the musculoskeletal system.
To effectively go through this formula, I assess all muscles which are shortened and tight and all muscles that are long and weak. I then design a corrective program to stretch the tight areas and strengthen the weak areas. This has a balancing effect on the system and generates great results.
4. Integrated Movement Development
For any golfer to effectively perform, they need to have an integrated Brain and Body. This essentially means, the ability for your body to effectively perform what your brain is telling it. Think of the body like an orchestra and the brain like the conductor.
An integrated body and brain translates to optimal coordination, balance, movement efficiency, motor control, and good dynamic posture.
This can be trained through performing functional movement patterns with optimal form. The functionality of a movement pattern is dependant on the sport being played. For a golfer, for example, a cable wood chop is a very functional movement pattern to train.
Programming optimal movement patterns into the system is a surefire way to improve your Golf biomechanics.
5. Learning your body’s weak points and develop a working relationship with it.
We are all unique individuals with unique biomechanical weak points and strong points. Some of us have a higher degree of coordination, agility, and balance, others are stronger and can generate more power.
Identifying and learning about how your unique body moves, and what path to optimisation will produce better function, is essential for getting long term results. Your friend’s Golf Performance Conditioning Program might not be the best for you, and your own program might even make someone else’s performance worse.
You may need a flexibility and stretching program to kickstart an improvement in your musculoskeletal system. Someone else might be already too flexible and lacking stability, needing a heavy focus on stabilisation exercises.
Identifying your body’s individual requirements is truly step one. And this is really best achievable through a detailed biomechical analysis.
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I currently have 4 available spaces for those looking to work 1 to 1 with me on my Integrated Movement & Golf Biomechanics Conditioning program. This program is ideal if you want to optimise your body's ability as a golfer, and perform at your peak performance.
The program is also ideal for those looking to overcome persistent pain, feeling tight and restricted, faulty alignment, aches, and experiencing injuries that just don’t seem to go away.
Gain specialist insight, and follow the corrective protocols to restore optimal body function, and develop a body capable of high performance exercise without pain or injury - Download the program brochure for full details, and the opportunity to book a free introductory call with Pierre.
"We worked on addressing the basics and after about 6-8 weeks (of following his exercise programme 2-3 times a week) I noticed very significant improvements - I was able to do gardening or go on bike rides without back pain, the pain in my neck has gone, and I have even started to be able to play the piano again without wrist pain. I am so impressed with the results I am planning to continue the programme for longer."
Pierre Higginson is a CHEK Practitioner Lvl 2, Corrective Exercise Specialist, CHEK Golf Performance Specialist, and Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach based at Ealing Fitness Clinic.